By Zohra Raja
It lies in the way it equips us to understand our past, and consequently, our present.
After-all, art is reflective of the society in which it is bred.
When asked to write a piece on my work at Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP), and their conservation work at the Lahore Fort, I was riddled with anxiety. What was there to say that hadn’t already been said before? And that too by individuals whose credentials far outweighed mine. As an intern at Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, my doubts about my own insights had me perturbed. What contribution would my observations constitute in the grander scheme of things?
It didn’t help that during the process of recording a history of interventions at the Fort, I was reminded by my dad of an ancestor of ours whose legendary plundering of the Fort had been immortalized on one of the boards at the entrance gate. For the purpose of maintaining some limited sense of credibility, I won’t name them.
But I digress. For readers who aren’t aware of their work, Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan has been at the head of most major conservation efforts within Pakistan. Their work ranges from restoration of the Baltit and Khaplu Forts in Gilgit-Baltistan to renovation of the Shahi Hamam and Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. The essence of this conservation is a regeneration of historic sites in ways that spur social, economic and cultural development. It aims to sustainably conserve them through involving the local community. This entails not just a preservation of the monuments but also the crafts and craftways of a historic city. Currently, the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan team is situated at the Lahore Fort, where they plan to conserve various monuments, piece by piece.
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